1980 | Comedy | 87 minutes | In English
Ted Striker is a traumatized former war veteran pilot. He’s been unemployed since his discharge. His girlfriend, Elaine Dickinson, a flight stewardess, ditches him as she boards a plane. Hoping to get her back, Ted buys a ticket for the same flight. Trouble ensues on the flight when the passengers get very sick. Dr. Rumack, a passenger, finds the cause to be food poisoning. With the captain of the plane sick and unable to function, Elaine prods Ted to take the controls. He’s terrified but agrees to do his best. Steve McCroskey, the tower supervisor, gets Rex Kramer, Ted’s former commanding officer, to get on the speaker and talk Ted through the landing of the plane. Hearing Steve barking instructions, freaks out Ted. Both Elaine and Dr. Rumack bolster Ted’s confidence. He lands the plane safely. Impressed with Ted’s display of courage, Elaine embraces and kisses him. A simple story but filled with so much slapstick, raunchy humor, that you’ll actually cry laughing.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 97%
- Metacritic Score: 78
Writers Guild of America Award: Best Adapted Comedy.
Golden Globe Award: Nominated, Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy.
BAFTA Award: Best Screenplay.
EMPIRE Magazine: #1 of the “The 50 Funniest Comedies Ever.”
In 2010 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
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AIRPLANE! crackles with great jokes and slapstick comedy and has retained the energy that made this satirical disaster film such a hit in 1980.
The humor is an ingenious concoction of satire, spoof, burlesque, slapstick, raunchy dialogue and low-comedy sight gags. The jokes are directed at sex, politics, religion, and almost everything else. The level of humor is not always consistent, but the filmmakers have thrown almost everything in with a shotgun approach and the routines work more often than not. The film will undoubtedly soar into the stratosphere of the year’s big moneymakers.
AIRPLANE! may be this summer’s most cheerful lunacy. It’s a splendidly tacky, totally tasteless, completely insignificant flight, a gooney bird of a movie that looks as if it could never get off the ground and then surprises and delights with its free-spirited acrobatics.
This sort of humor went out with Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis, and knock-knock jokes. That’s why it’s so funny. Movie comedies these days are so hung up on being contemporary, radical, outspoken, and cynically satirical that they sometimes forget to be funny.
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